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Busch captures third at Sprint All-Star race

Posted Monday, May 18, 2009, 11:00 am in Employee News

The stars of NASCAR shined brightly at this weekend’s Sprint All-Star and Sprint Showdown races at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C.

Despite threatening weather in the Charlotte, N.C., area most of the weekend, NASCAR’s only non-point’s race of the season dodged the rain and proved to be one of the sport’s most exciting races this year.

The 21-car Sprint All-Star field included the Dodge’s of Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge)—both via 2008 NSCS event wins—and Sam Hornish Jr. (All-Star Showdown winner) in the 100-lap, four segment shootout and the chance at the winner’s prize of over $1 million.

Although the race distance was 100 laps, the format technically created a 10-lap sprint to the checker-flag during the fourth and final segment. The driver’s mindsets were simple; bring home either the event trophy or your steering wheel.

Four yellow flags over the final 10 laps set up a dramatic five lap “dash-for-cash” sprint to the finish, which included five lead changes and plenty of drama.

Leading the Dodge charge again was Penske Racing’s Kurt Busch who continued his string of strong performances at stock car racing’s all-star event. With his third-place finish, Busch posted his third top-five and fourth top-10 finish in the Sprint All-Star race.

“It was really a good effort all the way around for this Miller Lite Dodge team,” Busch said. “I felt that the way that our car took off on green flag runs, the car just took too long to get going. Overall, I thought that we had the best car on a 20-lap run, but that doesn’t pay the big bucks tonight. If anything, we learned some things for next weekend’s (Coca-Cola) 600 that hopefully we can apply and make our Miller Lite Dodge better.”

Kahne’s hope to repeat as the Sprint All-Star Race champion was thwarted as the Kenny Francis-tuned Budweiser Dodge Charger started eighth, lost track position early and never could gain track position higher than 11th.

“We just missed it a little bit with our Budweiser Dodge,” Kahne said. “We were just tight and couldn’t get the car to turn like we wanted it to. We just missed it and never could really get the track position and keep it if we were to get it anyways. It kind of turned into a test, trying things and we know kind of where, what direction not to go. Hopefully we will be better next week.”

Despite starting 19th, Sam Hornish Jr. worked his way up to eighth position until he was involved in a two-car incident on lap 72 that pushed his Dodge Charger into the turn 2 wall. Hornish remained under power for the remaining 18 laps and finished 16th.

NASCAR Sprint All-Star Showdown

The five Dodge drivers not eligible for the all-star event were part of the 35-car Sprint All-Star Showdown, a 40-lap, two segment race for last-chance qualifiers hoping to race their way into the Sprint All-Star Race by finishing in the top-two positions.

Penske Racing’s Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge) earned his first stock car trip to Victory Lane by winning the 40-lap shoot-out in impressive fashion. Hornish Jr., who transferred into the Sprint All-Star Race via a second-place finish at last season’s Showdown, started third at this year’s Showdown, took the lead on lap 26, and pulled away during the last 15 laps to earn the automatic transfer spot into the main event.

“I wish we didn’t have to race our way in again, but it feels good,” Hornish Jr. said. “I was really happy how everything worked out for us. The Mobil 1 Dodge was excellent tonight, as usual. I love coming here and running at Lowe’s. It’s been a real fun track for me ever since we came and ran the All-Star Race last year.

“I knew we had a pretty good car in practice. I had a lot of fun racing out there tonight. The car was really good. It was the first time I’ve ever won anything in a stock car, so I was pretty happy about that.”

Teammate David Stremme (No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge) started on the pole and led the first 25 laps until a yellow flag brought out the caution causing a restart of the race that allowed Penske Racing’s teammate Hornish Jr. to take over the lead. Stremme would finish in third position.

“Man, we had a great Penske Dodge tonight,” Stremme said. “We just didn’t need that last caution because we were so good on long runs. You come here to make the (All-Star Race) and not to finish in third-place, so it’s disappointing. We were close, we just came up short.”

Sprint All-Star Race results:

(Driver, team, finished)
Kurt Busch, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger, 3rd
Kasey Kahne, No. 9 Budweiser Dodge Charger, 14th
Sam Hornish Jr., No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger, 16th

Sprint All-Star Showdown results:

(Driver, team, finished)
Sam Hornish Jr., No. 77 Mobil 1 Dodge Charger, 1st
David Stremme, No. 12 Penske Racing Dodge Charger, 3rd
AJ Allmendinger, No. 44 Hunt Brothers Pizza Dodge Charger, 7th
Reed Sorenson, No. 43 McDonald’s McCafe Dodge Charger, 18th
Elliott Sadler, No. 19 Best Buy Dodge Charger, 33rd

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to regular-season action next weekend for the Coca-Cola 600 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The No. 9 Dodge of Kasey Kahne is the defending champion. Practice and qualifying are scheduled for Thursday, May, 21 with final practice on Saturday. The green-flag drops on the Coca-Cola 600 at 5:45 p.m. Sunday.
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